The Electoral College has yet to convene to officially elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States, and the myths surrounding his campaign are already falling. Aside from a wonderful opportunity to say “I told you so” to the liberals in our lives, this will provide wonderful fodder for the next four years. (“Hope and change:” the new “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”) The latest: the Campaign Finance Institute analysed the donations to the Obama campaign and found that the unprecedented amount of cash was not given by small Americans who were inspired by Obama’s greatness. (Hat tip: TigerHawk.) A separate study found that perpetual motion machines do not actually work as advertised.
The reality: 26% of Obama’s $640 million (roughly $150 million) came from donors who gave $200 or less. (Approximately 25% of George Bush’s donations came from small donors.) The remaining $450 million – more than George Bush, John Kerry, and John McCain raised – came from people who gave more than $200. Another 27% of Obama’s donations came from people who gave between $200 and $1,000 (here); this still leaves about than $300 million from large, wealthy donors – which is roughly what McCain raised from all sources combined, including $84 million for public financing.
The Obama campaign was required to keep track of each and every donation, and report the name of any person whose total donations exceeded $200. Given that the campaign disabled the security features on its web site, which enabled people to give under fictitious names and with personal information that did not correspond to the credit card which was used, we can’t even be sure that all of those people actually were under the $200 limit.
Perhaps the news that the Obama campaign was not funded by small donors who gave their hard-earned money (during one of the worst economies in decades), but rather by big money, will prompt the FEC to reconsider its decision to not investigate Obama. (After all, some of the FEC’s rationale – aside from the admission that the audit would be embarrasing to a sitting President – was that the huge number of donors lessened any benefit of fraud.)
Obviously, Obama will enter office with a tremendous debt to pay off – not monetary, but political. Ideally, the American public would have known about this before the election, when it was actually possible to not vote the #2 all-time recipient of funds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for example, into office, at a time when the fall of FM/FM created one of the worst financial disasters in history. We will find out (the hard way) who paid for Obama’s presidency and what he owes them. Unions and their PACs? Overseas money? Lobbyists? (More lobbyists?)
Naturally, the Obama-pologists are out in full force. Among the criticisms of CFI’s study: the figure for “small” donations was an arbitrary $200 (which ignores the fact that this is the threshold for reporting, and also a sensible one, in that many Americans have an extra $100 or so lying around, but not an extra thousand dollars); the Obama campaign was longer (as if that somehow changes what big donors believe they are owed); and, of course, the ceaseless comparisons on a percentage basis, which ignores the fact that Obama raised a frightening amount of money from big-time donors, who will come equipped with their own demands upon our new president.
(Thanks to the super-fabulous Queen of Swords for the title.)